Marriage & Societal Flourishing

Senate File 1165 is an important step toward strengthening families and, as a result, our communities in Minnesota. This bill removes a disincentive to marry among individuals on public assistance.

This is important because marriage is key to family and societal flourishing for a whole host of reasons. Cohabitation doesn’t provide the same positive outcomes for children as found in married homes. Marriage serves as an essential foundation in the reduction of poverty, violence, substance abuse, as well as improved academic success and psychological well-being for families, children and society. The following statistics indicate this:

 

As it pertains to Poverty

  • Probability of child poverty drops by 89 percent for children in married households. (According to U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2007–2009 data)


As it pertains to Education

  • Teens are 60% less likely to graduate from high school if they came from a cohabiting household compared to teens in intact, married families (Raley et al. 2005). W. Bradford Wilcox, University of Virginia/Institute for Family Studies 


As it pertains to Substance Abuse

  • Teens in cohabiting households are 116% more likely to currently smoke pot compared to teens in intact, married families (Cavanagh 2008). W. Bradford Wilcox, University of Virginia/Institute for Family Studies


As it pertains to Violence

  • Harvard Sociologist Robert Sampson: “Family structure is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, predictors of… urban violence across cities in the United States.” W. Bradford Wilcox, University of Virginia/Institute for Family Studies


As it pertains to Psychological well-being

  • 15.7 % of school-age children in cohabiting households experienced serious emotional problems compared to 3.5% of peers in intact, married families (Acs and Nelson 2002).

 

As these statistics demonstrate, marriage serves as an essential foundation in society to reduce poverty, violence, substance abuse, as well as improve academic success and psychological well-being among children.

Legislators have an opportunity to send a clear message to Minnesotans concerning the value of marriage and its positive effects on families, children and society at large. Llow-income families should be supported by removing a financial roadblock to marriage. The marriage penalty, found in the public assistance program, harms families, children and society.

It is in the best interest of Minnesota families, and especially children, to pass Senate File 1165.

 

[The above statistics are based on information provided by the 1) U.S. According to U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2007–2009 and 2) Presentation by W. Bradford Wilcox at the Acton Institute in 2014 entitled, “The Marriage Divide: What’s Happening to Marriage in America & Why It Matters”, University of Virginia/Institute for Family Studies]